One possible strategy — outside of extreme and acrimonious litigation — Frank McCourt could pursue to thwart Major League Baseball’s seizure of the team when he fails to meet payroll is to put the team into bankruptcy. I’m not a bankruptcy expert — not by a longshot — but generally speaking a bankruptcy filing puts the brakes on everything related to the asset in question. It stays pending lawsuits and collection actions and, in all likelihood, would temporarily halt Bud Selig from kicking McCourt out of the ownership chair.
Of course, that halt in the action would be intended for the bankruptcy court to get a handle on the assets and liabilities of the club, and during that time it would be incumbent upon McCourt to demonstrate how, exactly, he planned to get the team out of bankruptcy and up and running again. And to that end, there’s a complication. As usual, here’s Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times:
Fox would not stand by Frank McCourt if the Dodgers owner were to ask a bankruptcy judge to order approval of the television contract rejected this week by Commissioner Bud Selig, two people familiar with the matter said Wednesday.
The Fox position would “severely complicate” any plans McCourt might have to file bankruptcy as a way to retain control of the Dodgers, said Rob Kampfner of White and Case, the firm that represented the incoming owners of the Texas Rangers through that club’s bankruptcy proceedings last year … “Frank would go in and wouldn’t have an exit strategy,” Kampfner said.
This is totally Richard III territory here. I love that part at the end where the dude gets abandoned by his allies, he can’t find a horse on Bosworth Field and then he gets hacked down.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.
ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.
Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.
The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.
Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.